Due to inclement weather moving into our area this evening and for the safety of our patrons, tonight’s 7 PM showing of ‘From Here to Eternity’ has been rescheduled to Wednesday, January 23 at 7 PM. All tickets purchased for tonight’s showing will be valid for the rescheduled date and time. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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Egyptian Theatre set to undergo $4.5M renovation project

DeKALB – Installing air conditioning in the 90-year-old Egyptian Theatre is not just about comfort, Executive Director Alex Nerad said. It’s about maintaining an economic engine, sustainability, for the DeKalb region and beyond.

“Whether you look at economic, hotel or restaurant impact, we need the Egyptian year-round,” Nerad said, standing in the 30,000-square-foot theater’s iconic auditorium, adorned with ornamental paintings and decor, the product of an “Egypt-mania” that swept the country in the 1920s.

On Dec. 18, the DeKalb City Council earmarked $2.5 million in surplus funds from the tax increment financing district known as TIF 2. The funds will be finalized in the coming weeks, but the theater staff already is moving forward with plans for a $4.5 million project to install a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, expand the bathroom facilities and a number of other repairs and upgrades.

Paul Borek, executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp., was among 35 individuals representing businesses or organizations who wrote letters of support for the Egyptian project before the vote on TIF funding.

“The [theater] reports that it now serves 40,000 patrons that contribute over $2 million each year to the local economy,” Borek said in his letter. “Downtown restaurants attest to the [theater’s] positive impact on traffic and revenue, while lamenting the lack of traffic during the summer. With year-round operation, it is estimated that the [theater] would serve 54,000 patrons contributing over $3 million in annual economic impact.”

Other notable letters of support came from the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, John Pappas of Pappas Development, Bob and Beth Fowler of the Beth Fowler School of Dance, the DeKalb County Community Foundation, Arts Alliance Illinois, Dimensions Dance Academy, the DeKalb County Conventions and Visitors Bureau, the Theatre Historical Society of America, the DeKalb Public Library, Northern Illinois University and restaurants such as Hillside Restaurant at 121 N. Second St., Tapa La Luna at 226 Lincoln Highway and Fatty’s Pub & Grill at 1312 W. Lincoln Highway.

Engineering will begin in June, and theater officials hope to begin their summer programming in 2020.

The air conditioning has been designed to protect the historical integrity of the building and will be installed on the roof. The energy-efficient unit – which Nerad said “is the size of a school bus” – will require some infrastructure redesign so the roof can support the weight. Although the engineering team will be able to use the existing ductwork for the HVAC system, new and more efficient ductwork will be installed throughout the building.

The building’s south side on Palmer Court will see a 4,200-square-foot, two-story addition to support the HVAC units, help expand the bathrooms on the second floor, and allow for second-floor concessions that will include an in-house liquor license upgrade. Estimated revenue from the concessions is $100,000 annually.

The first-floor women’s bathrooms will go from three stalls to 16 stalls. The mezzanine women’s bathrooms will go from two to six stalls. Additionally, the building will be renovated to conform to the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Of any project recently that has the ability to have a broad impact throughout the county and region, the Egyptian has a proven record of that,” Nerad said.

In fact, the Egyptian Theatre has received so much community support for this project that Nerad said the remaining $2 million needed to cover project costs already is on its way to being funded. About $1 million has been contributed so far by private donors, including an undisclosed amount by Hollywood actor and DeKalb native Richard Jenkins, Nerad said.

Steve and TJ Irving of Arrowhead Lane in DeKalb also made “a substantial donation,” as indicated in their letter of support to the city.

“Everybody has a connection to the Egyptian,” Nerad said. “Whether it’s your first date, first kiss, if you get engaged here, it’s 90 years of history.”

Nerad said the theater also is exploring state and historic preservation grants.

“It’s time to really reinvigorate and appreciate our local assets,” Nerad said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle – Shaw Media
By: Kelsey Rettke
January 3, 2019

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Egyptian Theatre Awarded $2.5 Million for Historic Project

The Egyptian Theatre in Downtown DeKalb is thrilled to announce the support of the City of DeKalb with a significant investment in the future of the Theatre.  $2.5 million in TIF funds were awarded Tuesday, December 18 by the DeKalb City Council to support the Egyptian Theatre air-conditioning and restroom/concession expansion project.  With nearly $1 million in additional private support committed, this project is well on its way. Design and engineering for this project will get underway after the first of the year while fundraising continues for the $4.5 million project.

Since opening in 1929, the Egyptian Theatre has never had air-conditioning.  As a result, the Theatre is closed during the summer months. This project will allow the Theatre to be open year-round with programming and be more accessible to the community.

The historic Egyptian Theatre has been a beloved place for many generations that have performed on stage, seen their first movie, gone on a date, shared their first kiss in the balcony, and other countless memories.  From visits by John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, there is no doubt that the Egyptian Theatre is one of the most important community assets in the DeKalb area.

The discussion of air-conditioning the Egyptian Theatre has been a long process that started in 1929 when it first opened its doors.  With the crash of the stock market during construction of the Theatre, there were many cutbacks in order to get the doors open. Serious discussions on this project have been underway since 2011 with a tremendous amount of community input, studies, research, and planning taking place.

“The decision made here tonight by this council has the potential to be one of the most transformational moments for Downtown DeKalb”, stated Egyptian Theatre Executive Director Alex Nerad in front of City Council, “It is not an exaggeration to say that this project probably has the broadest and most amount of support of any project that has come before council in recent history”.

Dan Schewe, Egyptian Theatre Board President stated, “we are excited for the next phase of growth for the Egyptian Theatre. This investment of support from the City of DeKalb is a pivotal moment for the Downtown and community.”

Nerad continued, “with nearly 90 years of history, the Egyptian Theatre has proven its importance in DeKalb County.  We are humbled by the outpouring of community support for this project and ecstatic for the next stage in the Egyptian’s story.”

The Egyptian was recently named by the State of Illinois Office of Tourism as 1 of 20 architectural treasures in the State of Illinois.  Once one of over 100 Egyptian Theatres around the country, today it is one of only seven remaining in the United States and the only one east of the Rocky Mountains.

The Egyptian Theatre located at 135 N. 2nd Street in Downtown DeKalb, IL is owned and operated by Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  Annual support provided by First National Bank, Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, Shaw Media, and Tapa La Luna. For more information visit: www.egyptiantheatre.org.

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Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Amanda Nelson of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Interview with Amanda Nelson
Conducted by Karina Palomo

Karina: Why is it important to give children an opportunity to see a live symphony orchestra?
Amanda: Children are the next generation of symphonic music listeners and supporters. If we don’t take the time to teach them that music is important, it will become a lost art.


Karina: How has KSO impacted your life?
Amanda: I have been around the KSO almost my entire life. I remember coming to concerts as a young child when I was just learning to play cello. After I graduated from college and moved back to the area, it was so exciting to get to perform with the symphony! When I was hired as the general manager, I felt like I could really make a difference in the community being a part of this organization. We are not just a community orchestra, we are an orchestra for the community. We are here to enrich and educate the community through music. If you aren’t familiar with the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, you are missing out!


Karina: Have any children who have attend a previous KSO Children’s Concerts reached out to you or any other members to share how the performance inspired them to play an instrument?
Amanda: Absolutely! Besides working as general manager for the symphony, I am also a music teacher. I have had quite a few students over my years teaching that have been inspired to be in orchestra because of coming to the KSO Children’s concert while in elementary school.


Karina: How have you seen KSO Children’s Concerts make in a difference within the community?
Amanda: Sometimes coming to the KSO Children’s Concert is the very first time ever a child is experiencing a live music performance. We are not just teaching them about the instruments, the music, or how to act in a concert setting. We are sharing an art with them which will hopefully start the beginnings of life long music lovers!


Karina: Why should parents bring their children to the concert?
Amanda: Unfortunately, this concert is only open to school groups. Teachers should make every effort to make this field trip happen because coming to a symphony orchestra concert is a very unique experience not every child has the opportunity to do! Our concerts are fun, engaging, educational, and inspirational! If your school isn’t attending this year, please look into coming next year! If parents would like to bring their children to another concert, I would highly recommend coming to our Winter Wonderland concert on December 7th or 8th! You won’t be disappointed!  


Karina: What do you hope the children in the audience will take away from the concert?
Amanda: It would be awesome if coming to the KSO Children’s Concert sparked a child’s interest to play a musical instrument, but really, I hope all children walk away from our concert with a little bit deeper love and appreciation for music in general! These kids are the next generation of symphonic music listeners and supporters.

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Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Rick Johnson of The Chicago Authority

The Chicago Authority Interview with co-founder and lead guitarist, Rick Johnston
Conducted by Karina Palomo

Karina: When were you first introduced to Chicago’s music?
Rick: I was playing in a middle school rock band – typical for the time, two guitars, keyboard, bass and drums  – and we rehearsed in the keyboard player’s basement. One day he pulled the cellophane off a brand new album by this band called the Chicago Transit Authority and put it on the turntable. From the very first notes of the first song, “Introduction”, we all knew this was something really special. So much so that we immediately added horns to our little rock band. And we’ve all been fans since the first time we heard them.


Karina: What is your favorite aspect of performing in front of a live audience?
Rick: Seeing the smiles and seeing people enjoying themselves. I won’t say there isn’t a bit of ego involved when we finish a song and thousands of people are cheering for something that we did, but the most important thing for all of us is to make sure the audience has a good time and goes away happy and smiling.


Karina: Does the band have a certain song that they enjoy performing the most?
Rick: There are songs we like, and then there are songs we love. If I had to pick one song it would be Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon, the full 12-minute version of composer James Pankow’s suite that includes the hit songs Make Me Smile and Colour My World. It is a brilliantly crafted piece of music, it’s fun and challenging to play, and from an audience standpoint it has something for everyone. Fans can hear the hit songs. People who are familiar with the deep cuts appreciate the fact that we aren’t playing “just the hits”. Musicians can hear some tight vocal harmonies, a really challenging guitar solo, great horn arrangements, trumpet, trombone, flute, and drum solos … it’s just an amazing piece of music.


Karina: What makes The Chicago Authority the best Chicago tribute band in the world?
Rick: (laughs) The executive producer of a TV show we appeared on called us that, and with all of the bands out there performing this music, he set the bar pretty high for us. It’s a lot to try and live up to. We work hard at it, though. You have to in order to even play some of the more challenging tunes. We rehearse pretty much every week, and the focus is on attention to details, to get it right, and to duplicate the sound and mimic the stage look of the original band. The horns are front and center, not hidden off to the side behind music stands. There’s a lot going on during our show. A lot of movement, interaction, and energy. We’re told we look like we’re having fun, and in reality we’re having and absolute blast. That’s contagious, I think, and the audience picks up on that high-energy good time and gives it back tenfold.


Karina:What can the audience expect from the show?
Rick: Again, it’s a high-energy good time from start to finish. We take a short break in the middle to let everyone catch their breath, and then it’s right back atcha. We play the hits, we sprinkle in a few deep cuts, we let the guys open up a bit during featured solos … and like I said, we have an absolute blast.


Karina: What advice would you give a new musician who is trying to master their talent?
Rick: I could go with the cliché practice, practice, practice, and while that holds true I think that listening to what other people are doing is just as important. And I don’t mean in any one genre of music. If all you listen to is, say, metal, you’ll be very good metal player but you won’t be a well-rounded musician. I was very fortunate to have parents who understood not only the importance of introducing me to music and lessons when I was seven, but they also exposed me to different styles of music. I was listening to big band, pop, jazz, blues, R&B, classical … and later rock & roll, progressive rock, funk, disco, country, punk. Today I’m still listening and learning – hip-hop, metal, Americana, and basically as much as I can get my hands on. Or my ears on. I think that, in addition to practicing and taking lessons from a good instructor, is what allows someone to develop a mastery of the craft.


Karina: Do any of the band members get stage fright before a show? If so, how do they deal with it?
Rick: We were just talking about that before our show last week. It’s not really stage fright – it’s nervous energy because we want the show to be great. Until the first few notes of the first song start gelling I think we’re all very nervous, and then a few bars into the song there’s this huge release of energy. Backstage before the show, the guys all handle it differently. I move around to try and burn off some of the nervous energy. Another will sit off by himself and reflect, pre-playing the show in his mind. A couple of the guys crack jokes. We all gather a few minutes before hitting the stage and form what we call a Circle of Trust just so we can sync up with each other. It bonds us, and it puts us all on the same page for the show.

The Chicago Authority will be at the Egyptian Theatre on Saturday, November 10 at 7:30 PM!

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